A measure of technological level for the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample
Technology differs from other features of culture in that the Boasian stance of cultural relativism seems less binding: one can argue that the technology of one society is superior or inferior to the technology of another. This comparison is possible because technological change—as described by S.C. Gilfillan, Clarence Ayres, and Jane Jacobs—operates through the process of combining existing elements of technology to create new elements. Technology is therefore cumulative, so that a more advanced technology contains more elements than a less advanced. We exploit this cumulative nature of technology to create a measure of technological level for the 186 ethnographically known societies in the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample.